Panarmenian | September 10, 2013
Swedish Foreign Minister: EU-Armenia Association Agreement off agenda
PanARMENIAN.Net — Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said that the EU-Armenia Association Agreement negotiations are off the agenda.
"Agreed with Miroslav Lajcak that Association Agreement with Armenia is now off the table. We work with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia," the official said on his Twitter page.
Bildt became the first European oficial to react to President Serzh Sargsyan’s statement as a U-turn in relations with the European Union. “Seems as if Armenia will break talks on free trade agreement with EU and integrate with Russia instead,” he said on his Twitter account.
Earlier, Armenia expressed intention to join Customs Union with further plans to be involved in formation of EurAsEC. Russian President Vladimir Putin supported the initiative, voicing readiness to assist Armenia in the process. He also noted that Russian Railways may invest 15 billion rubles in development of Armenia’s railway network.
The Customs Union was formed in 2010 to include of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia; Kirghizia and Tajikistan later expressed willingness to join the Union.
Linas Linkevicius, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said Armenia “has blocked its chances of signing a free trade deal with the European Union by choosing to join the Russia-led union.”
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton expects Armenia to explain the decision to join the Russia-initiated Customs Union. "We expect clarifications from Armenia, and then we will be able to assess the consequences this move may have," Ashton’s spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said in Brussels.
When in St. Petersburg to attend the G20 summit, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that Armenia, Moldova, and, if possible, Ukraine will hopefully sign the Association Agreement at the Vilnius Summit in November 2013. “This is a political agreement. The Agreement would allow Armenia to go through comprehensive change both politically and economically. Therefore, after getting the news about Armenia’s plans of joining the Custom’s Union the EU expects to hear from Armenia what her further plans are. We have not received official explanations from Armenia, yet we don’t think this is a zero sum game and the same refers to Ukraine. Some benchmarks will be necessary to meet. There are some outstanding issues but we hope to see results in Vilnius. We are still engaged with these countries and still expect to sign the Association Agreements,” he said.